Western University has launched a new $1 million research fund aimed at helping society survive pandemics. The new catalyst fund is open to a range of projects that will help build resilience and recovery from disease outbreaks, both now and beyond the current COVID-19 pandemic.
“We have a lot of really smart, talented people at Western and they can apply their skills and knowledge to this pandemic and to pandemics of the future,” said Sarah Prichard, Western’s Acting Vice-President Research. “We’re encouraging them to pivot from their usual thinking and apply their skills to the many pandemic-related issues facing society.”
The money will be awarded to as many as 20 interdisciplinary research projects spanning across disciplines and exploring social, economic, technological and health-related approaches to pandemics. They can encompass biomedical sciences, natural sciences, social sciences and the humanities – everything from science to math to visual arts.
“The main focus here is to expand the base of research and researchers in the community and to encourage greater creativity through collaboration,” said Prichard. “We’re going to prioritize multi-disciplinary teams taking novel approaches to the problem at hand, with the potential for long-term meaningful impact.”
Both the application and granting process are intended for a quick turnaround with the announcement of successful applicants and award amounts for the first phase of grants expected by May 6. The second phase of applications and grants will also take place this year but deadlines have not yet been set.
“We have COVID-19 research taking place at Western that is about isolating the virus and finding a vaccine, but there are many other elements that we need to understand as well,” said Prichard. “Resiliency for the next pandemic could also mean finding better ways to manage feelings of isolation or building more online resources for visual arts and I know our researchers have much to contribute.”
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